So, you’ve decided to get a new garden shed? Where should you put it and how do you prepare the site? Read on to learn about garden shed foundation options and what is the best way to prepare the site for your new kitset garden shed.
Choosing the best position for your shed
Look around your property and think about where the most convenient location for your shed would be. Think about what you are planning to store in it, the distance and ease of access to your shed from your house, garden, and existing pathways. If you position your shed far away from your house it won’t be very handy and it’s likely the shed won’t get used as much as if it was closer to your house or where you use your garden tools. Have you found the perfect spot for your shed, but it lacks a pathway? You can use either stone pavers or concrete to quickly build a path to the entrance of your garden tool shed.
Try and locate a spot in your backyard that’s flat and has no roots or clumps of rock. This will minimise the work and expense required to get your site level and ready. If you put your shed on unlevel ground, it can warp over time and may cause leaks and problems with your doors opening nicely.
It’s best to avoid wet areas when choosing the right place for your shed as it can cause dampness, mould, and mildew on your equipment in storage. Ensure that your shed location isn’t in a wet spot and is well-drained. A wet area can often be fixed by adding gravel to raise the ground level.
Check with your local council to make sure you are allowed to position your new building where you want and ask if there are any issues related to resource management or the district plan such as building close to a boundary. The NZ Building Code states that single storey detached buildings such as sleepouts, sheds, greenhouses and other similar structures can be built without a building consent if:
- they have less than 30sqm floor area
- the building must be more than its height away from all boundaries and the associated residential dwelling. For example, if your shed is 2.4 metres high, it must be built more than 2.4 metres from each legal boundary and from your house.
- It can’t be higher than one storey 3.5m from the floor to the top of the roof.
- The floor can only be up to 1m above the supporting ground.
If you want to position your garden shed closer to a boundary, you need to have written approval from your neighbours, then you might be able to apply for a Deemed Permitted Boundary Activity. This option may not be available with all NZ locations, please check with your local council.
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Does my shed need a foundation?
If your shed sits on the ground, it will get wet from the ground moisture. This can cause wood to rot and metal to rust. It will cause the contents of the shed to be damp.
Uneven ground under your shed can make doors stick and could cause leaks or lessen the strength and stability of your shed. A foundation provides a stable and level base, so the doors open, and your shed lasts longer.
Outpost skid mounted garden sheds do not need a foundation if you have a level site to position them on. The flooring in Outpost Garden Sheds sits up on top of the ground treated timber skids which prevents moisture from getting inside. If you choose an Outpost Shed that doesn’t have a floor then we recommend you use a gravel pad, concrete paver, or concrete pad foundation to act as you shed flooring.
Garden Shed foundation options
A proper base will support the type of shed you build or buy. What kind of foundation do you need? What are their pros and cons of each? Will the shed be relocatable or permanent? What will it all cost?
Concrete foundations for Garden Sheds
A concrete foundation for your shed is the strongest and longest lasting. It is also permanent and expensive if you have to pay someone to do it for you. A concrete pad may require the site to be excavated so it is level and then a layer of gravel goes down and wooden boxing goes in before the concrete gets poured. A concrete foundation is great for any size shed and can be used with or without shed flooring. We recommend getting a professional to install a concrete foundation for you if this is the option you choose.
Gravel pad foundations for Garden Sheds
Gravel pad foundation is good if you have reasonably flat ground. You can purchase gravel from a landscape supplies store, and it is available in a range of different grades to suit different applications. Talk to your local supplier for advice on what’s best for you. A crushed aggregate is recommended as it has smaller particles in it and packs into a more stable base.
It’s best to compact the gravel using a compactor; compactors can be hired, and you’ll need to check that you have the gravel pad nice and level. The gravel pad on the ground and should be approx. 30-50cm wider and longer than your shed. The shed dimensions dictate how large an area you need. Gravel will cost you approx. $45 per sqm. And you’ll want it about 10-15cm thick.
If desired, you can construct a timber frame edge to keep the gravel in place with a tidy edge and/or make it slightly raised for better drainage. Place treated timber framing around the gravel where you want the edge to be. Nail or screw the timber framing together at the corners then square the corners and make sure it’s all level. Screw or nail the corners again to secure them and perhaps hammer a length of steel rebar into the ground to hold it all in place.
Skid foundations for Garden Sheds
A skid foundation is a quick and easy way to support a shed that doesn’t require any permanent foundations on the ground.
The shed sits on and is evenly supported by the skids. The skids, also called runners, usually sit directly on the ground. This means you want relatively flat ground underneath them. Outpost sheds have a skid base included in the kitset. It comprises of 2 or more heavy duty, treated timber skids that sit parallel underneath your shed to support the length of the building.
A skid foundation means the shed can be skidded/moved to another location. It is a good idea to dig a trench where the skids will lay, then tamp in gravel ensuring the surface is level and drained. This will help protect the wood and make levelling easier. The trench should be wider and longer than your skid.
Having a relocatable shed gives you more options for the future; you can reposition your shed, move it with you to a new property or on-sell the shed if it's no longer needed. Choosing a strong, relocatable shed is a good investment.
Outpost Sheds have a strong skid mounted base made from quality H5 treated timber so you can rest assured that they won’t rot for over 100 years. The skids have angled ends on them to make it easier to drag the building without catching on the ground. The timber framing is attached to the skids and the Zincalume or Colorsteel cladding on Outpost sheds is run horizontally to add to the strength of the building.
Large Outpost skid mounted sheds can be lifted onto a hiab truck for easy relocation to your new property. Small Outpost skid mounted sheds can be carefully winched or dragged onto a trailer with some help from some strong friends and a tow rope.
Paving Stone foundations for Garden Sheds
Pavers are an easy DIY shed foundation. A foundation of pavers sits on levelled exposed ground or a sand base. They provide a solid flat base upon which to build or set a shed and evenly support the floor. The bigger the paver, the heavier it is, but the fewer you need.
Pavers are great on flat ground for smaller sheds with or without a floor. Once the ground is level, pavers are easy to lay. If placed on the paving sand, there’s an extra step levelling before putting the pavers. Paving sand will make it easier to level the pavers too. Cost of a 400mm square paving stone is approx. $15 each and they are readily available at hardware and gardening stores. Not suitable for large sheds as they can crack with heavy loads or become uneven over time.
Concrete block foundations for Garden Sheds
A relatively easy foundation for an experienced DIY person and a good solution for wet areas or uneven ground where part of your shed needs to sit higher than ground level. Different sized concrete blocks are available at landscape or gardening centres. Only use solid-concrete blocks. They sit on the ground and need to be level and be level with each other. You’ll need at least 1 concrete block in each corner for a small shed and for very large sheds you’ll need to put more supporting blocks approximately every 1 metre.
On sloped ground you can stack blocks to get the height needed to be level with other blocks. You’ll need to choose good firm ground for this foundation type or put a gravel base in underneath the concrete block foundation to help prevent ground movement and sinking. The difficult parts of this foundation option are levelling the blocks with each other and squaring the corners. The level of difficulty increases for sloped ground. The cost of solid-concrete blocks depends on their size and shape. The number required will depend on the dimensions of the shed and the slope of the ground. How high off the ground you want the shed to be is also a factor.
Your choice of shed foundation is an important decision. It helps keep your shed level, dry, and provides a stable base for it. All extend the life of your storage shed.
Some shed foundations are easier to build than others but may not last as long or be suitable for your site. Select the option that best fits your shed and the location you want to put it in. Call a local Builder if you have any questions or need help.